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Jurisprudence Preliminary investigation

[G.R. No. 147932. January 25, 2006.] LAILA G. DE OCAMPO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, MAGDALENA B. DACARRA, and ERLINDA P. ORAYAN, respondents. To repeat, what is determined during preliminary investigation is only probable cause, not proof beyond reasonable doubt. 25 As implied by the words themselves, "probable cause" is concerned with probability, not absolute or moral certainty [G.R. No. 186652. October 6, 2010.] ATTY. ALICE ODCHIGUE-BONDOC, petitioner, vs. TAN TIONG BIO A.K.A. HENRY TAN, respondent. A preliminary investigation thus partakes of an investigative or inquisitorial power for the sole purpose of obtaining information on what future action of a judicial nature may be taken.

First Women's Credit Corporation v. Perez G.R. No. 169026, June 15, 2006, 490 SCRA 774, 777 It is settled that the determination of whether probable cause exists to warrant the prosecution in court of an accused should be consigned and entrusted to the Department of Justice, as reviewer of the findings of public prosecutors. The court's duty in an appropriate case is confined to a determination of whether the assailed executive or judicial determination of probable cause was done without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to want of jurisdiction. This is consistent with the general rule that criminal prosecutions may not be restrained or stayed by injunction, preliminary or final, albeit in extreme cases, exceptional circumstances have been recognized. The rule is also consistent with this Court's policy of non-interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations, and of leaving to the investigating prosecutor sufficient latitude of discretion in the exercise of determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence as will establish probable cause for the filing of an information against a supposed offender. UCPB v. Looyuko G.R. No. 156337, September 28, 2007, 534 SCRA 322, 331 citing Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. v. Tonda, 392 Phil. 797, 814 Consistent with this policy, courts do not reverse the Secretary of Justice's findings and conclusions on the matter of probable cause except in clear cases of grave abuse of discretion. xxx xxx xxx In other words, judicial review of the resolution of the Secretary of Justice is limited to a determination of whether there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction considering that full discretionary authority has been delegated to the executive branch in the

determination of probable cause during a preliminary investigation. Courts are not empowered to substitute their judgment for that of the executive branch; it may, however, look into the question of whether such exercise has been made in grave abuse of discretion. [G.R. No. 172796. July 13, 2009.] SPS. ARTEMIO and ESPERANZA ADUAN, petitioners, vs. LEVI CHONG, respondent. It is hornbook principle that the term "grave abuse of discretion" means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. 15 The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law. [G.R. No. 171435. July 30, 2008.] ANTHONY T. REYES, petitioner, vs. PEARLBANK SECURITIES, INC., respondent. Suffice it to say that it is indubitably within the discretion of the prosecutor to determine who must be charged with what crime or for what offense. Probable cause, for the purpose of filing a criminal information, has been defined as such facts as are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that respondent is probably guilty thereof. (Sy v. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 166315, 14 December 2006, 511 SCRA 92, 96; Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 154685, 27 November 2006, 508 SCRA 215, 224; Cabrera v. Marcelo, G.R. No. 157835, 27 July 2006, 496 SCRA 771, 782; Osorio v. Desierto, G.R. No. 156652, 13 October 2005, 472 SCRA 559, 573; Sarigumba v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 154239-41, 16 February 2005, 451 SCRA 533, 550; Quiambao v. Desierto, G.R. No. 149069, 20 September 2004, 438 SCRA 495, 508; Serapio v. Sandiganbayan, 444 Phil. 499, 531 (2003); Fabia v. Court of Appeals, 437 Phil. 389, 398-399 (2002); Domalanta v. Commission on Elections, 390 Phil. 46, 62-63 (2000); Webb v. Hon. De Leon, 317 Phil. 758, 779-780 (1995); Pilapil v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 101978, 7 April 1993, 221 SCRA 349, 360) The term does not mean "actual and positive cause" nor does it import absolute certainty. It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. Probable cause does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense charged. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a crime has been committed by the suspects. It need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, not on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt. 20 In determining probable cause, the average man weighs facts and circumstances without resorting to the calibrations of the rules of evidence of which he has no technical knowledge. He relies on common sense. 21 What is determined is whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed, and that the accused is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial. It does not require an inquiry as to whether there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

These findings of probable cause fall within the jurisdiction of the prosecutor or fiscal in the exercise of executive power, which the courts do not interfere with unless there is grave abuse of discretion. The determination of its existence lies within the discretion of the prosecuting officers after conducting a preliminary investigation upon complaint of an offended party. Thus, the decision whether to dismiss a complaint or not is dependent upon the sound discretion of the prosecuting fiscal. (Public Utilities Department v. Hon. Guingona, Jr., 417 Phil. 798, 804 (2001); Joaquin, Jr. v. Drilon, 361 Phil. 900, 907 (1999) He may dismiss the complaint forthwith, if he finds the charge insufficient in form or substance or without any ground. Or he may proceed with the investigation if the complaint in his view is sufficient and in proper form. To emphasize, the determination of probable cause for the filing of information in court is an executive function, one that properly pertains at the first instance to the public prosecutor and, ultimately, to the Secretary of Justice, who may direct the filing of the corresponding information or move for the dismissal of the case (Advincula v. Court of Appeals, 397 Phil. 641, 650 (2000); Punzalan v. Dela Pea, G.R. No. 158543, 21 July 2004, 434 SCRA 601) Ultimately, whether or not a complaint will be dismissed is dependent on the sound discretion of the Secretary of Justice. 24 And unless made with grave abuse of discretion, findings of the Secretary of Justice are not subject to review. For this reason, the Court considers it sound judicial policy to refrain from interfering in the conduct of preliminary investigations and to leave the Department of Justice ample latitude of discretion in the determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for the prosecution of supposed offenders. Consistent with this policy, courts do not reverse the Secretary of Justice's findings and conclusions on the matter of probable cause except in clear cases of grave abuse of discretion (First Women's Credit Corporation v. Perez, G.R. No. 169026, 15 June 2006, 490 SCRA 774, 777) D.M. Consunji, Inc. v. Esguerra, 328 Phil. 1168, 1181 (1996). By grave abuse of discretion is meant, such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law. [G.R. No. 154920. August 15, 2003.] RODNEY HEGERTY, petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ALLAN NASH, respondents. The City Prosecutor had the duty to determine whether there was a prima facie case for estafa based on sufficient evidence that would warrant the filing of an information. A public prosecutor, by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file a criminal information where no clear legal justification has been shown, and no sufficient evidence of guilt nor prima facie case has been presented by the petitioner. We need only to stress that the determination of probable cause during a preliminary investigation or reinvestigation is recognized as an executive

function exclusively of the prosecutor. An investigating prosecutor is under no obligation to file a criminal action where he is not convinced that he has the quantum of evidence at hand to support the averments. Prosecuting officers have equally the duty not to prosecute when after investigation or reinvestigation they are convinced that the evidence adduced was not sufficient to establish a prima facie case. Thus, the determination of the persons to be prosecuted rests primarily with the prosecutor who is vested with discretion in the discharge of this function. [G.R. No. 163656. April 27, 2007.] MARINA B. SCHROEDER, petitioner, vs. ATTYS. MARIO A. SALDEVAR and ERWIN C. MACALINO, respondents. In our criminal justice system, the public prosecutor exercises wide latitude of discretion in determining whether a criminal case should be filed in court. Courts must respect the exercise of such discretion when the information filed against the person charged is valid on its face, and no manifest error or grave abuse of discretion can be imputed to the public prosecutor (People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126005, January 21, 1999, 301 SCRA 475, 493) [G.R. No. 166888. January 31, 2007.] FIRST WOMEN'S CREDIT CORPORATION and SHIG KATAYAMA, petitioners, vs. HON. ROMMEL O. BAYBAY, in his capacity as the ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 65, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, MAKATI CITY [SIC], * RAMON P. JACINTO, JAIME C. COLAYCO, ANTONIO P. TAYAO and GLICERIO PEREZ, respondents. It is settled that the determination of whether probable cause exists to warrant the prosecution in court of an accused should be consigned and entrusted to the Department of Justice, as reviewer of the findings of public prosecutors. 26 The court's duty in an appropriate case is confined to a determination of whether the assailed executive or judicial determination of probable cause was done without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to want of jurisdiction. This is consistent with the general rule that criminal prosecutions may not be restrained or stayed by injunction, preliminary or final, 27 albeit in extreme cases, exceptional circumstances have been recognized. 28 The rule is also consistent with this Court's policy of non-interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations, and of leaving to the investigating prosecutor sufficient latitude of discretion in the exercise of determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence as will establish probable cause for the filing of an information against a supposed offender. 29 PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION Cruz vs. Cruz, 515 SCRA 89 (2007) Preliminary investigation is an inquiry or proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial. The investigating prosecutor is vested with the duty of (a) preparing a resolution holding the respondent for trial and filing the corresponding information or (b) dismissing the case should he find that no probable cause exists against respondent.

Paredes vs. Calilung, 517 SCRA 369 (2007) Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt and definitely, not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt, but it certainly demands more than bare suspicion and can never be left to presupposition, conjecture, or even convincing logic. Although it is entirely possible that the investigating prosecutor may erroneously exercise the discretion lodged in him by law, this does not render his act amenable to correction and annulment by the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction. (*USE THIS) AAA vs. CArbonell, 524 SCRA 496 It is well-settled that a finding of probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence beyond reasonable doubt; Probable cause is that which engenders a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial Tilendo vs. Ombudsman, 533 SCRA 331 The presence or absence of the elements of the crimes, which are by their nature evidentiary and defense matters, can be best passed upon after a trial on the merits - a preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive display of the parties evidence Gonzales vs. Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation 537 SCRA 255 Probable cause has been defined as the existence of such facts and circumstance as would excite the belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor; A finding of probable cause merely binds over the suspect to stand trial it is not a pronouncement of guilt. Rep vs. Desierto, 512 SCRA 57; De Chavez vs. Office of the Ombudsman, 514 SCRA 638; Magbanua vs. Junsay, 515 SCRA 419; Schroeder vs. Saldevar, 522 SCRA 624; Gonzales vs. Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, 537 SCRA 255 The wide latitude in determining the existence of probable cause or the lack of it cannot be exercised arbitrarily; A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a crime has been committed and was committed by the suspects Boiser vs. People, 543 SCRA 436 (2008) A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a crime has been committed and was committed by the suspect probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely, not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt Tan vs. Ballena, 557 SCRA 229; Baltazar vs. People, 560 SCRA 278 (2008) A prosecutor alone determines the sufficiency of evidence that will establish probable cause justifying the filing of a criminal information against the respondent, but by way of exception, judicial review is allowed where

respondent has clearly established that the prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion. Baltazar vs. People, 560 SCRA 278 (2008) As defined under the law, a preliminary investigation is an inquiry or a proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed , and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial Reyes vs. Pearlbank Security, Inc. 560 SCRA 518 (2008) By grave abuse of discretion is meant, such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to the lack of jurisdiction Levi Strauss (Phils.), Inc. vs, Lim, 573 SCRA 25 The filing with the Court of Appeals of a petition for review under Rule 43 to question the Justice Secretarys resolution regarding the determination of probable cause is an improper remedy the remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. Chan vs. Secretary of Justice , 548 SCRA 337 (2008) Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, as the investigating officer acts upon reasonable belief probable cause implies probability of guilt and requires more that bare suspicion but less than evidence which would justify a conviction Albay Accredited Constructors Association, Inc. vs. Desierto, 480 SCRA 520 (20060 The ultimate purpose of preliminary investigation is to secure the innocent against the hasty, malicious, and oppressive prosecutions, and to protect him from open and public accusation of crime, form the trouble, expenses and anxiety of a public trial, and also to protect the State from useless and expensive prosecutions. In certiorari proceedings under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the inquiry is limited essentially on whether or not the public respondent acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion Glaxosmithekline Philippines, Inc. vs. Khalid Mehmood Malik, 499 SCRA 268 (2006) The prosecutors findings on what constitutes sufficient evidence as will establish probable cause for the filing of the corresponding complaint or information against an offender are not subject to review by the courts unless shown to have been made with grave abuse of discretion